Starting in the 1550s, middle- and upper-class women in Europe wore dresses which included a smock, stays, kirtle, gown, forepart, sleeves, ruff and a partlet. Undergarments were not worn underneath. In England, Queen Elizabeth dictated what kinds of dresses women were allowed to wear. French women were inspired by Spanish-style bodices and also wore ruffs. French dresses were known as marlottes. In Italy, dresses were known as ropa and semarra. Dresses in the 16th century also displayed surface decoration such as embroidery, with blackwork being especially popular.
Here are the best fashion photos: Dresses.
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